Taste and see …

Peanut-butter blondies with milk chocolate frosting June 30, 2010

Filed under: Cookies,Desserts — F. Penner @ 8:29 PM
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I think just about everyone I know likes the combination of peanut butter and chocolate – in almost any form.  I decided to make these as a thank-you to one of my friends for filling in for me in our church nursery.  (She’s not a regular nursery worker, so don’t anyone start getting the idea that if you switch nursery days with me, you’ll get something yummy.  Not gonna happen.)  And coincidentally, another friend also happened to be having a party the same weekend, so I brought the remaining blondies to his place.  I love it when I bake, and I don’t have to figure out who else is going to eat it besides me!!  And then, while at this party, one of the guests came up and told me he needed to have the recipe because they were apparently that awesome.  So make this recipe.  The blondies are a bit dense and rich, but seriously – they’re wicked good!!  There were none left over (except for the few corners I had kept at home for myself just in case – thank goodness I did!)  Oh – and the frosting is amazing – I’d totally use it on a cake at some future point.

Peanut butter blondies with milk chocolate frosting

  • 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×13-inch pan, line with parchment paper if you have it on hand, then grease the parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment paper, these blondies will be just fine.  *I used parchment paper because I had it – but I think it was probably unnecessary.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted.  Remove from the burner and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the peanut butter.  Stir until incorporated.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.  You want the sugar, butter and peanut butter mixture to be cool enough that the eggs won’t begin to cook when they’re added in.

Whisk together salt, flour and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients.  Stir until just incorporated.  Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Milk chocolate frosting

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cocoa powder and salt.  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar followed by 1 tablespoon milk.  Beat well.  Add another cup of powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk.  Melt milk chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Add melted and slightly cooked milk chocolate the frosting and beat to incorporate.  Add the final 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if you need a bit more thickness.  Spread evenly over peanut butter blondies.  *I don’t own a stand mixer, so I just used my hand mixer – it still turned out fine.  And I added the full 2 cups of powdered sugar.  I also melted my chocolate chips (Hershey’s milk chocolate chips, which do not taste like a Hershey kiss – I recommend them over Nestle’s milk chocolate chips) over a double boiler because I have a tendency to make the chocolate seize when I melt it in the microwave.  I know it’s fixable, but I prefer to just avoid that whole scenario.


Curried chicken and tortellini salad June 19, 2010

Filed under: Pasta,Salads — F. Penner @ 11:24 AM
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I think I might be back into my sort of groove with trying new things – and posting them!  I don’t even remember how I came across this recipe at Cooking.com – I know I was supposed to be working and not looking for recipes :/  Since I made the Chicken and cherries I discovered that I kind of like curry powder.  And I like almost everything else in this recipe too, so since it’s summer and I’m all about the weather-appropriate food, I decided to go for it!  I went with a store-bought rotisserie chicken and dried cranberries.  I also used a little bit of sour cream in place of some of the mayo, and I only used 1/2 a cup total.  (I’m not the hugest fan of mayo – hence the sour cream substitution – plus I needed to use the 1/4 cup or so that I had left :))  Because I was a little wary of just dumping everything on top of the pasta and chicken, I mixed the sour cream, mayo, curry powder, salt & pepper together before I added.  I didn’t want to have one bite that was all curry powder, and another that was all mayo.  Ew!!  After having this for lunch a couple days in a row, I began to wish that I had gone with the 3/4 cup of mayo/sour cream, because it got a little dry.  The first plate or two I had was fine, though.


  • 1 12-16 oz. package tortellini or ravioli
  • 1 cooked rotisserie or barbecued chicken
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 cup chopped apples, dried cherries, or dried cranberries (or a combination)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste


  1. Cook the tortellini or ravioli according to package directions.  Drain and put into a medium bowl.  While the pasta is cooking, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and discard.
  2. Cut the remaining chicken meat into bite-sized pieces and add to the pasta.  Chop the scallions and add the chopped white part and some of the chopped green stem.
  3. Add the fruit, mayonnaise, peas, curry powder, salt, if desired, and pepper, if desired.  Mix well.  Garnish with remaining chopped green part of the scallions, to taste.


Cheese danish June 5, 2010

Filed under: Breads,Desserts — F. Penner @ 4:41 PM

Several weeks ago now, I finally had the time to make cheese danish – all the way from scratch!  I’d had the recipe sitting around for months – it was in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I think possibly one of their Christmas baking issues – and I finally had a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do.  So I got everything I needed and set to work making the danish.  In between letting the danish dough sit in the fridge, I also made a couple loaves of bread, but rest assured that I’m not usually that ambitious – I don’t normally set out to make 2 time-consuming things in the same day, at the same time.  It just happened to work out that while I could go back and forth between the two, so I went for it!  (The bread will not be on here, sadly, although it was pretty tasty 🙂 )

So the danish… time consuming and somewhat frustrating for non-pastry chefs…  You have to blend butter and flour together, then mold it into a 5-inch square.  And the dough… I do not like sticky doughs… I’m never sure how sticky is too sticky, when I need to add that last 1/4 cup of flour, etc.  I think that having to scrape the dough off of the plastic wrap it was wrapped in is an indicator that I should have a) greased the plastic wrap somehow or b) added more flour.  I also think that I really wanted to get to bed at a decent-ish time and I might not have let the dough chill as long as I should have… so consequently I think it was a little heavier/denser than it’s supposed to be… However, it still tasted pretty good, and people seemed to like it, so that’s really all that matters, right? 🙂

Danish dough

  • 1 3/4 (8 3/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz.) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Butter square
  • 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-Tbsp. pieces and kept cold
  • 1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. For the dough: Whisk 1 1/2 cups of flour with sugar, yeast, and salt in medium bowl.  Place milk and egg in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.  Add flour mixture and knead at low speed until smooth ball of dough forms, 7-8 minutes. (Dough should be sticky, but if more dough is sticking to sides of bowl than to itself, add remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as necessary.)  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. For the butter square: Mix together butter and flour and mold into even 5-inch square.  Refrigerate butter square until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  Roll dough into 9-inch square.  Place chilled butter square diagonally onto dough.  Fold corners of dough up over butter square so that they meet in middle and pinch ends of dough together to seal.  Using rolling pin, gently tap dough, starting from center of dough and going outward, until square becomes larger and butter begins to soften.  At this point, start gently rolling dough into 11-inch square, checking often to make sure dough is not sticking and dusting with additional flour as necessary.  Do not let butter square break through dough.  Fold square into thirds to form long rectangle, as if folding business letter.  (This method of folding is called a “turn.”)  Starting at narrow ends, fold rectangle in thirds again to form square.  You have now given dough 2 turns.  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Repeat step 3, giving dough 2 additional turns (for a total of 4 turns) and chilling again for at least 4 hours.

Danish braid

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On large sheet of parchment paper, roll chilled dough into 14-inch square.  Spread filling (recipe below) onto center third of dough and form braid by using a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the outer thirds into 3/4 inch strips (so that cuts are at an angle to the filling).  Stop cuts 1/4-inch shy of filling.  Alternating sides, fold strips over filling, crisscrossing strips over center and pressing ends to seal, until entire Danish is braided.  Transfer braid, still on parchment, to large baking sheet.  Cover braid loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until puffy (it will not double), about 30 minutes.
  3. Bake until braid is golden brown, 22-26 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.  Place braid on wire rack and brush with glaze (recipe below) while still hot.  Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.  Using soupspoon, drizzle braid with icing (recipe below).  Slice crosswise and serve.
Cream cheese filling (makes about 1 cup, enough for 2 braids)
  • 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz.) sugar

Using spoon, mix all ingredients together thoroughly in medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

Danish glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 5 tsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Whisk ingredients together in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until needed.

Danish icing
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp. milk

Whisk ingredients together in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until needed.